The 19-year-old, who won the 'Best Actress' accolade at this year's British Soap Awards, is to leave early next year in order to pursue other drama, film and theatre projects.
Speaking exclusively to DS, she said: "I've been on Hollyoaks since I was 15 and I've grown up on the show. I'm so very fortunate to be given the opportunity to learn my craft in such a fantastic environment. I just feel that the time is right to move on and hopefully get into dramas and films as I love to play different roles."
She added: "I am really grateful to Bryan Kirkwood and Tony Wood and all the other production staff for the opportunities given to me and I've seen the show go from strength to strength."
On life beyond Hollyoaks, she told Mayfair Fashion magazine: "As of yet I've not got any other commitments, but I'm looking into a British film or maybe a stint in musical theatre.
"I really want to build my experience up. I'm not looking towards another soap, although one-off drama pieces interest me a lot."
Hollyoaks producer Bryan Kirkwood said: "It's a real shame that Emma has decided to leave Hollyoaks but viewers will see her on screen until June 2009 and we can guarantee another brilliant year in the show for her.
"With Lucy Allan taking the helm, 2009 looks set to be another action-packed year for Hollyoaks that will consolidate the show’s award-winning success."
Last year, Emma was involved in one of the most hard-hitting storylines in the show's history, which saw her character Hanna suffering from eating disorders anorexia and bulimia. The climax to the plot featured UK soap's first anorexic death when Hannah's best friend Melissa Hurst (Carla Chases) suffered a heart attack due to her fragile condition.
Emma finishes filming with the Chester-based soap in March and will remain on screen until June. She recently undertook a photoshoot with new fashion and lifestyle magazine Mayfair Fashion.
At the end of last month, it was announced that Roxanne McKee was to leave the soap in December. Producer Bryan Kirkwood will vacate his office at around the same time, making way for his successor, the show's deputy producer Lucy Allan.
> Soap Scoop: The gorgeous Emma Rigby from 'Hollyoaks'